A rose by any other name...

That Blair visited Iraq should come as no surprise. After all, it's a cliché of crime novels that the criminal always returns to the scene of the crime. Why should a war criminal be any different?

Clearly Blair is somewhat concerned that the justification for Bush's colonisation of Iraq is missing. He is being increasingly desperate, stating he had "absolutely no doubt at all about the existence of weapons of mass destruction" in Iraq and that he would make public "telling evidence."

But Blair's criteria for "evidence" is pretty slack. To take just one example, last September Bush and Blair talked to reporters at Camp David. Blair cited a newly released satellite photo of Iraq identifying new construction at several sites linked in the past to Iraq's nuclear weapon programme. Both referred to a 1998 report by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that, they claimed, said Saddam could be six months away from developing nuclear weapons.

"I don't know what more evidence we need," Bush said.

A lot more, as the report said no such thing. In fact, it said that Iraq had been six to 24 months away from such capability before the 1991 war and the U.N.-monitored weapons inspections that followed. IAEA said that "based on all credible information available to date ... the IAEA has found no indication of Iraq having achieved its programme goal of producing nuclear weapons or of Iraq having retained a physical capability for the production of weapon-useable nuclear material or having clandestinely obtained such material." Not only that, a spokesman for the IAEA disputed Bush's and Blair's assessment of the satellite photograph, stating that the new construction indicated was no surprise and that no conclusions were drawn from it.

Faced with this, a senior White House official acknowledged that it did not say what Bush claimed. "What happened was, we formed our own conclusions based on the report," they said. Bush's blunder was called a "mis-statement."

Orwell would be proud. Just as there is no such thing as "mis-selling" a pension (it is fraud) this is not a "mis-statement": it is a lie. Can we expect a similar quality of "evidence" from Blair in the near future?

Blair was not helped by Donald Rumsfeld, who could not promise that WMD would be found. Given that Bush and Blair had cited their belief that Iraq had banned weapons as the main reason for their attack this admission shows that the UK and US people were lied to. It is hard to imagine a greater breach of public trust than to mislead a country into war. Nor a more striking confirmation of libertarian arguments.

Rumsfeld raised the possibility that Iraq may have destroyed all its weapons of mass destruction before the US-led invasion. This, he said, may explain why Iraq had not used the weapons of mass destruction against coalition forces invading in the country. Another explanation could be that Iraq had no such weapons in the first place and the US used WMD to justify an imperialist war. And Rumsfeld's comments insult the intelligence. Saddam knew he was about to be attacked. Yet it is suggested that he destroys his weapons so that they are not there after he is defeated? Not only that, he did not tell anyone that he had done so and so advert the war? It makes as much sense as the "he had no time to use them" argument.

That was not the only clanger Rumsfeld dropped on Blair when he warned Iran that it could be next. He stated that Iran was "being unhelpful today with respect to Iraq." "Iran should be on notice," he said, "efforts to try to remake Iraq in Iran's image will be aggressively put down." Obviously Iraq will be remade in the image of the US and no one else, particularly the Iraqi people, will change that. And while Blair, in the past, downplayed any more attacks the poodle's regime now also "warns" Iran, signifying yet another u-turn in favour of the US line. No wonder Blair looks tried, he is dizzy from all the spinning!

Needless to say, the irony that the US is opposing "outside" interference in Iraq was lost on him. But, then, logic does not seem to be a "coalition" strong point. Blair opined that "in Baghdad there has been a serious security problem but let's not forget this country does have its freedom." Strange, then, that the "liberators" have formally asked the UN for, and received, the mantle of "occupying power." Strange, then, that there is no government elected by the Iraqi people, nor any plans for one soon (never mind self-management!). Strange, then, that US troops have opened fire on unarmed Iraqi protestors. And strange, then, that the Iraqi people are using their "freedom" to tell the "liberators" to leave them, their country and their oil alone!

So when Blair states that there is a desire among all Iraqis to be "in charge of their own destiny," he forgot to mention two things. Firstly, that this means for more and more Iraqis rejection of the "occupying powers." Secondly, that neither Bush nor Blair will tolerate any changes they don't approve of, regardless of what Iraqis want.

So it is doubtful Blair will listen to the voices in Iraq any more than to the people of Britain when it came to the war (and a host of other matters). Such are the joys of freedom, Blair style!

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